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Biden Says Gaza Cease-Fire Talks Delayed Following 100 Civilian Deaths During Food Delivery

UN officials say 1 in 6 children under two in the northern region are suffering from 'acute malnutrition'

Biden Says Gaza Cease-Fire Talks Delayed Following 100 Civilian Deaths During Food Delivery

President Joe Biden says negotiations for a cease-fire will likely not occur by early next week following reports of over 100 civilian deaths in Gaza during a food delivery.

The president had previously expressed hopes to reach a deal by Monday.

“Hope springs eternal,” Biden said Thursday when asked by reporters to comment on the status of negotiations. “I was on the telephone with people in the region. … Probably not by Monday, but I’m hopeful.”

In response to the reported deaths, Biden said, “We’re checking that out right now. There’s two competing versions of what happened. I don’t have an answer yet.”

When asked if the news would complicate negotiations, the president said, “I know it will.”

Early Thursday, reports emerged from multiple news outlets claiming that somewhere between 104 and 112 Palestinians were killed when Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) opened fire on civilians waiting in a food line in Gaza City. A spokesperson for the Gaza Health Ministry said another 760 people were wounded, USA Today reports.

The food delivery arrived one day after the Health Ministry reported six children died from dehydration and malnutrition at hospitals in northern Gaza. On Feb. 27, UN officials reported about one-quarter of Gaza’s population of 576,000 people is facing famine.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator Ramesh Ramasingham said “1 in 6 children under the age of two in northern Gaza are suffering from ‘acute malnutrition and wasting,’ where the body becomes emaciated,” AP News reported.

Though IDF officials acknowledge the use of open fire, they claim the response was caused by “a violent gathering of Gazan residents [which] developed around the [humanitarian aid] trucks, who looted the equipment,” according to a statement quoted by the outlet. Israeli officials said dozens of Gazans were wounded due to “overcrowding, crowding, and trampling.”

Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir offered the statement on X:

“We must give complete backing to our heroic fighters operating in Gaza, who did very well against the Gaza mob that tried to harm them,” he said, according to an online translation from Hebrew into English. “Today it has been proven that the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza is not only madness while our abductees are being held in Gaza under conditions, but also endangers IDF soldiers. This is another clear reason why we must stop transferring this aid, which is in fact aid to harm IDF soldiers and oxygen to Hamas.”

“At some point, the trucks were overwhelmed and the people driving the trucks, which were Gazan civilian drivers, ploughed into the crowds of people, ultimately killing, my understanding is, tens of people,” said Israeli government spokesperson Avi Hyman, per Al Jazeera.

The Qatar-funded outlet noted that the Israeli characterization of events “was disputed by witness accounts.”

“We went to get flour. The Israeli army shot at us. There are many martyrs on the ground and until this moment we are withdrawing them,” one witness said, according to Al Jazeera. “There is no first aid.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was an "ugly massacre conducted by the Israeli occupation army on people who waited for aid trucks at the Nabulsi roundabout,” per Reuters.

“The White House said Biden discussed the ‘tragic and alarming incident’ with the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, as well as ways to secure the release of Hamas hostages and a six-week ceasefire,” the outlet reports. “The U.S. is urgently seeking information on what took place, the State Department said, adding Washington will push for answers from Israel which said it is investigating.”

Myriad reactions to differing accounts of what occurred flooded social media platform X. Monday afternoon, terms like #GazaHolocaust and #Massacre were trending.

A CNN report referring to the event as a “chaotic incident” resulted in backlash from X users who declared the outlet’s framing “false,” “evil,” and “vile.”

Comedian Jon Stewart, who recently returned as the host of The Daily Show, also took CNN to task for their headline.

“umm...note to CNN...a ‘chaotic incident’ is college kids storming a basketball court, not a massacre at a food line...” he wrote.

At the time of this reporting, the phrase “Chaotic Incident” is trending in the U.S. on X with over 82,000 posts.

Earlier today, during his first appearance before Congress after concealing a January hospitalization, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin revealed that 25,000 Palestinian women and children have been killed by the IDF since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

According to the Health Ministry of Gaza, 30,139 people have been killed during Israel’s offensive. That figure includes 13,230 children and 8,860 women.

The Times of Israel notes that the “figures cannot be independently verified and are thought to include those killed in terrorist rocket misfires.”

The Independent reports that the U.S., Egypt and Qatar are working to lock in an agreement between Israel and Hamas before March 10, when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins.

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